By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 5, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 5, 2012) -- Fort Rucker welcomed the new commander of the 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment, during a ceremony at Howze Field June 28.
The change of command became official as the unit colors were passed from the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Michael Flowers, to Col. Kevin Christensen, commander of the 110th Aviation Brigade, on to the incoming commander, Lt. Col. Robert R. Keeter.
Keeter comes to Fort Rucker with his wife, Denise, and their three children from Naples, Italy, where he served as the director of Logistics and Assistant J35 in Joint Forces Command Naples during Operation Unified Protector.
"Rob and his lovely wife, Denise, bring a tremendous talent for leading and taking care of Soldiers to this command," said Christensen. "I know that Mike takes comfort in knowing that the unit that he loves so much will continue to excel under the leadership of Rob Keeter."
The incoming commander's military career began in 1993 when he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, received a regular Army commission and was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C.
He has an experienced leadership career ranging from platoon leader, assistant S-2 and rear detachment commander for the 2-82nd Assault Helicopter Battalion (Airborne), to commander of B Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Aviation Brigade of the 2-501st Aviation Battalion, 1st Armored Division in Hanau, Germany, which makes Keeter more than qualified to take the 1-11th into the future, said Flowers.
"Rob and Denise, you are a welcome sight [and are] the right team at the right time to lead this battalion into the next chapter," said the outgoing commander. "The task is under way at full speed, and today we give you the keys to a finely oiled machine."
A machine that, under Flowers' command, has made over 5 million aircraft movements without accidents or incidents due to air traffic controller mistakes, according to Christensen.
"[The unit did this] while simultaneously executing air traffic services operations across 25 facilities every training day without fail," said the colonel. "[Under Flowers' command], over 1 million Traffic Management Program miles were driven by his Soldiers without any incident or injury, while he flawlessly supported the training of nearly 4,000 flight-school students and combat Aviators that flew [more than] 500,000 hours," adding that Flowers left the unit well trained and ready for Keeter to take on as the new commander.
An opportunity that the incoming commander said he was thankful to be afforded.
"Thank you General Crutchfield and Colonel Christensen for the opportunity to command this great unit," he said. "I'd also like to thank Mike Flowers for his invaluable advice and counsel during our transition, and to all the leaders and Soldiers with whom I've served with and are about to serve -- thank you for making this the best job in the world. I am truly honored to join your ranks."